Greyhounds May Get a Reprieve From Running Race Tracks in Florida

Greyhound Racing
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April is National Greyhound Adoption Month, and let me say at the outset that I love Greyhounds. Yet I’d like nothing better than to see a whole lot less of them in my working life.

It’s not because they suffer from periodontal disease, are sensitive to certain drugs and are predisposed to painful corns on their pads. I want fewer Greyhounds around because it will mean fewer tracks are managing to turn a buck off their backs.

How Old-School Gambling Laws Harm Greyhounds

I got to thinking about this topic recently after several Florida legislators banded together to try and put the brakes on the Greyhound racing industry via a new bill. Its goal is to divorce Greyhound racing from the parimutuel industry so that this so-called sport can compete on its own merits and not live parasitically off the spoils of more profitable gambling enterprises. 

Let me explain: According to a recent story on the subject, Florida's backward gambling laws are what keep the brutal Greyhound racing industry alive by requiring that dog racing establishments hold a certain number of races before highly profitable slots and poker games can be permitted.

Because Greyhound racing is such a low-margin enterprise, it's largely this legal loophole that makes these tracks profitable gambling enterprises. Otherwise, they'd have closed their doors long ago because, let’s be honest, dog-racing’s days are over.

Nonetheless, the industry is hanging on with a white-knuckled death grip — not just to cling to its past glory, but in its spiral of diminishing profits, against the dogs themselves.

Given this kind of blunt talk, it’s hard for me to maintain much objectivity on the dog-racing thing. I have a really hard time with it — as a veterinarian, animal-welfare advocate, dog lover and animal person, in general. As much as racing Greyhounds might relish the regular runs, I just don’t get how life in a cage can compare to life in the lounge lane.

Life on the Fast Track

Living in captivity is the least of it. Here’s a rundown of the animal-welfare issues involved in the “sport” of Greyhound racing:

The puppy-mill aspect. Consider where — and how — Greyhounds are produced. Although some breeding farms are better than others, most are puppy-mill-style commercial establishments where animals are bred with one goal in mind: raceability. That’s why a surplus of pups is always produced — to have a critical mass from which to select the best. All others are culled (as in killed) usually as pups, or sold for medical uses.

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